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Subaru quits rally championship

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The deepening global economic crisis has claimed another motorsport casualty in the shape of the Subaru World Rally Championship team.

The Banbury-based Prodrive-run team has withdrawn from the 2009 season after 20 years, three constructor's and three driver's titles from Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg.

The team said in a statement: "This sudden decision was in response to the widespread economic downturn that is affecting the entire automotive industry."

The news follows Suzuki`s confirmation that it is to quit the championship, and less than a fortnight after Honda shocked motorsport by withdrawing from Formula One.

Prodrive chairman David Richards said: "Subaru's departure from the World Rally Championship is a great loss, as it is one of the sport's icons.

"The Subaru World Rally Team has created true champions such as Colin McRae and Richard Burns, and its absence will be felt by many the world over.

"Although this decision closes a significant chapter in Prodrive's history, our focus now turns to the future."